oa Southern African Journal of Epidemiology and Infection - Sexually transmitted infections in pregnant urban South African women : socio-economic characteristics and risk factors

Volume 21, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1015-8782
  • E-ISSN: 2220-1084



The prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) was assessed in 766 apparently healthy, pregnant urban South African women presenting for delivery, and associations with demographic and socio-economic characteristics and clinical symptoms were determined. Overall, 48% of women carried one or more STI infection during their pregnancy. Infection with HIV, and was detected in 18%, 23%, 12% and 9% of women, respectively. Predictive factors for infection included lack of antenatal care, multiple pregnancies, being unmarried, unemployed status and lack of a regular monthly income. While routine screening for HIV and syphilis is offered at most South African antenatal clinics, screening for chlamydial and gonococcal infection is not routinely performed and therefore these infections remain undetected and untreated. Elicited symptoms were not associated with infection, but differences in demographic and socio-economic characteristics offer a tool to tailor preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for the control of STIs to the individual needs of this high-risk group.

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